The Detroit Pistons agreed to terms with two more free agents on Sunday night: point guard D.J. Augustin and small forward Caron Butler. These two join center Aaron Gray, who agreed to terms on July 8, as the latest additions for Detroit.
Augustin, 26, who was obtained at a very cheap price considering how he finished last season, agreed to a two-year contract worth $6 million. Butler, 34, will make $4.5 million this season and has a player option for the 2015-2016 season. The numbers of Gray’s deal haven’t been announced yet.
To make room for the newest Pistons, Detroit waived second-year player Peyton Siva and backup center Josh Harrellson yesterday. Both Siva and Harrellson were signed to non-guaranteed contracts for the coming season, so the team won’t take a cap hit for letting them go.
Augustin and Butler are two good shooters that will bring experience and a natural scoring ability to the Pistons. Gray is 7-foot big man that stands to replace Harrellson. These three join Jodie Meeks and Cartier Martin to round out Stan Van Gundy’s first free-agent class with Detroit.
I believe Detroit won’t be looking to add any more free agents, because the Pistons don’t have much roster space or cap room to operate with following the Augustin and Butler announcements.
The team will now focus all of its attention on bringing back restricted free agent Greg Monroe, who is one of the few big-name free agents still undecided.
The free agency period kicked into overdrive after LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland on Friday afternoon. The dominoes started to fall soon after that, and most of the coveted free agents like Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol agreed to contracts over the weekend. Monroe is free to sign any contract he desires elsewhere, but hasn’t made any decision yet.
If Detroit brings Monroe back, their roster would be at an ideal 15, pending no further transactions. We know how keen Van Gundy is on keeping Monroe around, but only time will tell if he decides to return. For what it’s worth, he did show up at a Pistons summer league practice with his agent last week.
Let’s take a look at what Gray, Augustin and Butler will bring to Detroit:
- Position: Center
- Height: 7 feet
- Years pro: 7
- College: Pittsburgh
The Pistons were aggressive on the first day of free agency (July 1) and immediately signed Meeks and Martin, but Detroit waited until July 8 to announce Gray as their next addition.
Gray, 29, will add depth and size down low with his 7-foot, 270-pound frame. He doesn’t bring much to the table offensively, so he’s a downgrade from Harrellson in that regard. He especially struggles with his free-throw shooting.
Gray will have to play needed minutes whenever Andre Drummond gets into foul trouble, something that he has struggled with in his young career. So while his role may be small, it may end up being crucial for Detroit. Look for him to play 10-15 minutes a game, out there to set screens and rebound.
- Position: Point guard
- Height: 6 feet
- Years pro: 6
- College: Texas
Augustin, 26, had a topsy-turvy year last season, which is probably why he was gotten at such a bargain price. He was cut mid-season by the Toronto Raptors, but bounced back to finish the year with a career-high 14.9 points-per-game scoring average after the injury-stricken Chicago Bulls signed him.
There is no denying Augustin’s ability to score and shoot the three, it was the reason he was drafted ninth overall by the Charlotte Hornets in 2008. He has always been able to fill-it-up when given the opportunity, plus he passes the ball well too. He averaged five assists-per-game with Chicago last year to go along with all of those points.
Because of last season, I put Augustin ahead of Will Bynum on the depth chart. I think he immediately becomes the backup point guard because of his ability to shoot. His career average of 37.7 percent from beyond the arc will be a welcome addition in Detroit.
- Position: Small forward/shooting guard
- Height: 6-foot-7
- Years pro: 12
- College: Connecticut
Detroit will be the eighth team the 34-year-old Butler has played for in the league. The journeyman finished last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he played key minutes as a backup during their postseason run. Butler, who was also a lottery pick in 2002, adds much needed depth on the wing.
He will be reuniting with Van Gundy, who previously coached him in Miami back in 2003-2004. Butler will add a veteran presence to Detroit’s locker room, as well as the ability to score off the bench. He’s also a capable defender and rebounder.
Scoring has always been the thing that Butler does best, and he has a 15.1 career scoring average to back that up. Factor in his three-point shot and the fact that Josh Smith will supposedly only play at the four next season, and Butler looks primed for big role on the wing in Detroit.